If you’re looking for interesting places to visit in Dublin, Croke Park is a good place to start.
Although the Aviva Stadium might be the shiny new stadium du jour, the heart and soul of Irish sport lies among Dublin 3’s narrow roads and terraced houses at Croke Park.
Even when there isn’t a game on, the Croke Park tour provides a great platform to learn about Irish sporting history and a whole lot more.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on the story behind this historic stadium and the GAA museum to the Croke Park Skyline Tour.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Croke Park tour
Although booking into the Croke Park tour is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Croke Park (or ‘Croker’ as it’s known to locals) is walkable from the city centre, and you can make it there within half an hour. Otherwise, you can jump on a number of different buses. You can also take the DART to Drumcondra Station, which is just a 10-minute walk from the stadium.
2. Admission + opening hours
Admission (prices may change) to the GAA Museum is €9 for adults, while it’s €7.50 for students and seniors. It’s €6.50 for children aged 3-12 (under-3’s go free), while families of two adults and two children can enter for €21. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday, 9.30 am to 5 pm and on Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.
3. The tours
Croke Park really pushes the boat out when it comes to the variety of tours on offer! Choose from a historical tour at the GAA Museum, an all-access Stadium Tour or get a unique view from above with the Crok Park Skyline Tour. They’re all cracking tours led by experts, so choose one (or all of them!) and see what Croke Park’s all about.
4. Home to a heap of history
Croke Park is home to the sort of history that few other stadiums can match, and not all of it is pleasant. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting! As well as opening way back in 1884, it was also the scene of the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre where 14 civilians were gunned down by British forces. But more on that in the next section.
A brief history of Croke Park
The history of Croke Park is a long and interesting one. And it’s forgotten by many who take a seat inside its walls.
Below, you’ll get an insight into some of the stories you’ll hear during the Croke Park tour. Pay particular attention to the section on Bloody Sunday.
1. A stadium for an Archbishop
The land around Croke Park had been used as the setting for sporting events since the 1880s and was known as the City and Suburban Racecourse, or Jones’ Road sports ground. Then in 1908, the ground was bought by a local journalist and GAA member with a view to making it a permanent Gaelic sporting ground.
Five years later, the GAA purchased the plot of land for £3,500, and the ground was then renamed Croke Park in honour of one of the GAA’s first patrons, Archbishop Thomas Croke.
2. Bloody Sunday
By 1920, it had a couple of stands and was on its way to eventually becoming a recognised stadium. Things came to an abrupt halt, however, on the 21st of November of that year.
During a match between Dublin and Tipperary, British forces fired on the crowd of 5,000, killing twelve spectators and a Tipperary player in response to an IRA attack earlier in the day.
The event has lived on in infamy and only increased support for the IRA at home and abroad. Built in 1924, the Hogan Stand at Croke was named after Michael Hogan, the Tipperary player killed on Bloody Sunday.
3. Big games and bigger gigs
Croke Park has since evolved into an elite sports stadium, and its capacity has swelled to 82,000, making it the fourth-largest stadium in Europe. It continues to be used predominantly by the GAA and hosts the annual All-Ireland finals in Gaelic football and hurling.
It also regularly hosts music gigs by some of the world’s biggest artists. Unsurprisingly, it’s been a favourite of U2 for many years, but Croke has also hosted gigs by the likes of Bon Jovi, Take That and Tina Turner.
What to do at Croke Park
One of the reasons that the Croke Park tour is seen as one of the best day trips from Dublin City is due to the number of things there is to see and do.
Below, you’ll find info on the Croke Park Skyline Tour and the GAA Museum to where to visit nearby.
1. The GAA Museum
When people refer to the ‘Croke Park tour’, they’re usually talking about the GAA Museum, which vividly brings to life how the GAA has contributed to Ireland’s cultural, social and sporting heritage.
The GAA Museum tells the story of Ireland’s unique national sports. Featuring a ton of artefacts, including jerseys, medals and photographs, there’s so much here to keep you entertained, even if you’ve no idea how Gaelic football or hurling work. You’ll soon know!
There are also exhibitions, and the Remembering Bloody Sunday Exhibition is the one to go to if you’d like to know more about that terrible day in 1920.
It shaped the landscape of Ireland in more ways than one and is as important an event as any other in Ireland’s struggle to be free of Britain’s grasp. This is regarded as one of the best museums in Dublin for good reason.
2. The Skyline Tour
Now here’s a tour you won’t find at any old stadium! Get an epic view of Dublin from 17 storeys high at Croke Park’s Skyline Tour. Dublin’s highest open-viewing platform, this amazing rooftop walkway will give you a birds-eye view over the stadium and pitch and you’ll be able to learn about each stand from a unique vantage point.
When you’ve finished checking the stadium out, you’ll then be able to turn and get a stunning panorama of Dublin City! The expert guides will point out all of the city’s significant landmarks and tell you about them in their own way. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos on this tour!
3. The Stadium Tour
Want to get an insight into what it’s like to be one of the privileged few to play at Croke Park? Minus the sweat, of course! The Croke Park Stadium tour gives you a backstage pass to see areas of the stadium fans would never normally get to see on match days.
Take a seat in the VIP area, enjoy a birds-eye view from the media centre, take a look inside the dressing rooms, and walk in the footsteps of Gaelic games legends as you go pitchside through the players’ tunnel! The expert tour guides will tell you all about the history of the stadium on the way and point out all of its interesting quirks and landmarks.
Things to do near Croke Park
There’s an almost endless number of places to visit in Dublin after you’ve finished up on the Croke Park tour.
Below, you’ll find everything from historical sites and old pubs to great places to eat, one of our favourite walks in Dublin and more.
1. Glasnevin Cemetery
Stretching across 124 acres, this famous Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place for some of the most prominent names in Irish history. Take one of their cracking tours and hear the stories and see the graves of the likes of Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera and Brendan Behan. The O’Connell Tower offers a viewpoint to rival that of the Croke’s Skyline (though there’s a 198-step climb to see it!).
2. National Botanic Gardens
Situated next door to Glasnevin Cemetery, the National Botanic Gardens is the place to come for a deep dive into the natural world during your time in Dublin. Founded in 1795, they house approximately 20,000 living plants and many millions of dried plant specimens across 48 acres.
3. Endless attractions in the city
Head back down south towards the city centre but stop by at Parnell Square to celebrate some of Dublin’s finest literary artists at the Dublin Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre. Continue down O’Connell Street if you want to see Trinity College and Temple Bar. Staying north of the Liffey, the Jameson Bow St Distillery is just a 15-minute walk from Parnell Square.
4. Food and trad pubs
There’s plenty of pubs near Croke Park so you can go and grab a pint, whether it’s a match day or not. The likes of The Auld Triangle, Meagher’s or Fagan’s are all cracking options but they only really come alive if you’re there for a big game! Or, if you fancy visiting somewhere very unique after the Croke Park tour, visit the Gravediggers in Glasnevin.
FAQs about the Croke Park tour
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is the story behind Bloody Sunday and Croke Park?’ to ‘Is the GAA Museum worth visiting?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What happened on Bloody Sunday at Croke Park?
On the 21st of November 1920, during a match between Dublin and Tipperary, British forces fired on a crowd of 5,000, killing 12, in response to an IRA attack earlier in the day.
Is the Croke Park Skyline Tour worth doing?
Even if you have no interest in the GAA Museum, the Croke Park Skyline Tour is well worth doing, as you get to see Dublin from a very unique angle.
What’s involved in the GAA Museum tour?
Vividly bringing to life how the GAA has contributed to Ireland’s cultural, social and sporting heritage, the GAA Museum tells the story of Ireland’s unique national sports.